They Say Ulysses Is Coming Home // All He Had To Do Was Stay

2/19/15

I’ve been obsessed lately.

Like unhealthy addiction, consumes my thoughts, obsession.

Ulysses, by Tennyson, has been a poem I have read before. In school, for fun, but now… I am reading this poem at least once a day, observing everything that Ulysses was and ever will be.

He wanted to roam. He wanted to travel. Staying, that was too much for him. He couldn’t be sitting around turning back into dust when there could be another adventure just beyond the next tide that could push the blood through his veins until he was alive.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t Ulysses. When I wasn’t aching in the depths of my bones to move, to leave, to find the next thing. Staying has always fit on my skin like a too tight wet-suit, I can never learn to breathe a place in and call it home.

—-

There was this boy I used to know who told me that leaving was a thing of fear.  If love was there, if we left and missed a place, then we had found a home. It didn’t have to be a place, sometimes we find home in people.

This boy had brown eyes and an embrace that held you together when you thought you could only fall apart. He had a voice that resembled the slow ebbing of the tide and the urge to tell stories like Homer.

That boy and I walked the lonely streets of our neighborhood and spoke of everything but goodbye. I held back all the tears and he hid all emotion behind a goofy chagrin.

He dug around in his head for awhile, the silence deafening. I broke the silence, it was always me breaking the silences

“I have to leave tomorrow, you know.”

He shook his head. He knew. He knew all along. His fingers wrapped tighter around mine, squeezing my hand, and he pulled me into his arms. 3 years later, I finally realized that was what home was.

“I’m leaving in the morning, and I’m afraid.. for us.”

He stayed silent. All he had to do was ask. Whisper that one word. That one syllable that means everything to a girl who is searching, always searching. Running, always running.

All he had to do was tell me: stay. 

Ulysses couldn’t stay. The poem never tells us. It ends with the decision thrown up in the air, but I know. Deep down, I know that Ulysses left Ithaca forever. Left Penelope and Telemachus. Left his kinghood. Left everything for the open sea.

Always roaming, always wandering.

I finally am planting roots for the first time, seeing them begin to grow. But I am afraid. Funny how the tables have turned, I am dying to leave. I aching for this new place to scream: GO, get out of here while you still can. I am secretly yearning for God to lean down one night and whisper “sweet girl, you aren’t  suppose to be here anymore. I have new plans for you, a different plans. Pick up the roots, girl.”

You see, I have always wandered. My life has been made up of travelling and uprooting and I am not even sure what it looks like and what it means to be planted somewhere. To fully blossom in the place I have been placed.

But I was never afraid of the wandering until it meant loss. I lost him that day, when he didn’t utter those four letters: stay. 

Sometimes, you have to leave. Sometimes you have to answer the siren call. Pack everything up and find a new beginning.

But sometimes. You stay. You play music over the accursed sirens and fast instead of eating the lotus flowers. It could be so sweet to stay, so fresh to plant yourself.

I’ve been listening to God whispering lately and it’s the same thing over and over: “Stay. Please, little one, please stay.” 

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